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tv   In Depth  CSPAN  August 16, 2009 8:30pm-9:00pm EDT

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monthy three-hour live program. on the first sunday of each month we invite one author to discuss their entire body of work and take their calls. in depth also visits with the author to see where and how they write. that's what you're about to see. we visited irvin painter at her home in new york. >> i wish i could say that i got up early and i came to my computer and i put myself to work and i ate properly. and i worked for several hours. and i had a full days work. i kind of get up, and i have tea, and i sit in front of the
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window. and maybe i look at the "new york times" on the web or gone to town to get it. i think about what i'm going to do. i go down to the treadmill. i have some breakfast. and meander over to the computer. and then i sort of pick up steam as the day goes by. so i start sort of slowly by afternoon i'm really rolling. and then in the evening i sort of have to tear myself away because i'm falling asleep or not working very productively. so i would not recognize, i would not recommend my way of working to others. my method for writing depends on what i'm writing. so if i'm writing something sort, like an 800-page letter to my colleagues or to historians,
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i'll start with a few key ideas. i'll open a document on my computer, and then i'll think about those ideas moving them around and pulling them together. perhaps if i have messages from some people they want me to include, i'll go back to the e-mails and pull those back. for sort short, i can play with it right here on the computer. with some longer like the book i'm working on, and i'm in different stages which is driving me crazy. i have books here, which i bring back new jersey. i've taken a lot of books out of the library up the road from here. and i'll sit in the other room usually if it's day time and some of the big window where i'm being viewed, and it's beautiful.
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and there's a little space heater. or if it's evening i'll make a fire and stretch out on the coach and read. so i'll read, and then make a kind of personal index on another sheet of paper or if i'll own the book, i'll write it in the back of the book. and then i make a big pile of those books. perhaps photocopying if i need -- but certainly looking back at my own indexes. and then putting together ideas to fit into what i'm tried to do. what i'm doing here, though, is not that kind of work. this is revision of revision. and so this really almost word by word making sure that i have the right word, making sure that the narrative flows from one photograph -- paragraph to another.
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it's pretty much not spreading out and doing research by kind of working paragraph by paragraph and sentence by sentence. i'm a very academic writer. i'm a historian. so everything i say needs to come out of the archives or out of somebody's scholarship. so i can't sort of walk in the woods and make up the things i want to write. however, i can walk in the woods and ask myself questions and ask questions of my sources. and that's what makes my book, my book. it makes it sounds like me and not like all the other people i draw. so a lot of the work goes on in this room or in this house. in fact, it all goes on in this room and in this house in the winters we have. because you don't want to spend a lot of time outside when it's really cool and cold.
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but in other parts of the year, i can work on the porch, i can go down by the river, sometimes kayaking helps. so it's a series of different ways, different methodologies. >> so scenery was very beautiful on the way here. i didn't see very much houses, a lot of mountains. >> yes. >> why are you here? >> we are here, working here even though we have internet and phone and fax and all the modern convenes, it's still a distance from home in new jersey. so it's feels as though we have more concentration when we're here. i don't know if that's really the case. but certainly is the way it feels. i have always composed on a keyboard. always from the time i wrote my dissertation. i wrote my dissertation in the
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library at radcliffe. i had a typewriter and composed. and then i would cut the pages up. i would first write on yellow paper. and then i would make changes manually, and then almost literal cut and tape. if it got a little more polished then i moved over to white paper. and there would be this time in which there would be strips and yellow and white and then more and more write and scratching out of that. i have always done a lot of revising. with the computer, my first computer book was "standing in armageddon." i thought was wonderful. i could revise instantly. as first i thought i'll never do
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this, i knew i wouldn't have to do all that retyping. but it turned out to be much, much better. i still compose on the keyboard and now i make a new document every day. so each day i will actually entitle the document what it's called, chapter three and then put the date on it. so when it's in my computer just on the list of documents, i can see which one is the new one and which is the old one. these were the pages i was working obvious. and the handwriting here is my editor. wonderful gentleman editor who knows what she's doing. so i'm looking at material that i struggled over when we were in germany in 2001. and some of this research i actually did in german.
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my german isn't all that great. but i discovered a name i had never heard of, cristof minors. and my editor says a reader may well get lost in had this academic struck. -- struggle. he suggests that it go. i wasn't ready to throw the whole thing out. it may come to that later on. right now i took out several of these sentences. and then saved some of the others. maybe the next step will be putting some of it in notes, and then maybe i can pull out later. but it's hard to throw away material that was so hard done. over here this is actually the chapter that i'm working on.
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it is moved elsewhere in chapter three. this is material on a man named banks who was very important in blunebahc's world. it may not be all that important for my book. i put him over on the side. another part of what i was doing was working with a thesaurus. i am not too proud to use the thesaurus in work, which i do. in fact here it is. sometimes that can be very, very useful to find another word. but very often the thee sorus in word, in the soft wear is too red men trito get to the what i need. so i was fiddling with the world for submission or objection, and
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i ended up i forgetten, but i ended up with a word i think subjection that i find in a book rather than word. the great thing about word it has always parts and speech and lots of words to choose from. the think about my book is you can look around the pages, around where you were looking for. and find other meanings and other new nuances that can help clarify. that's why i use the book in addition to the one in word. >> is your editor working this closely with you, does your editor get what you're working on, what form? >> my editor gets it on, well,
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earlier i sent him a cd because i think there's 13 chapters. but right now i'm working on three chapters. and i'll probably just e-mail them to him. and he can print them out in new york and work on it. and then he will -- since he writes on it, he will send me back. hello, rose. this is rose, who is a very friendly cat. rose speaks german to me. and she likes to write. so he will send me back hard copy, and then i will work on that on the computer. and then i'll sent an e-mail or if i have a lot of stuff or images that take up a lot of space i will send him a cd. what i have done, this book is not nearly as image heavy as the book i published in 2005/2006
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which had sue images. due even though some of the chapters don't have images, an the tuns that have impassengers may have 1, 2, or 3. but that many can make for an awfully big file of e-mail. so i've separated images from the text. and so i can seeped him the text through e-mail. and if he needs to see the images, you can send the cd. >> do you keep your own library a large one or public library? >> mostly i use the princeton university library. which walks on water. i couldn't do it without them. it's not just the books. the princeton university library has a as much as in which i can sent them a citation of a chapter of a book or an article and they will e-mail it to me.
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and that has been a lifesaver. that that is the reason i can work here. i should say also the worldwide web is very helpful. one of my editors concerns is that i would identify figures and that is a very figures centric story so that readers won't get bogged down. so a lot of little boyographys in it. and i got very focused on getting all the information i could and noting all that was really important about these figures. and my editor will say sometimes we just need a phrase to give the reader a sense of who this person is when they first appear. so my -- one of my editorial jobs is to go back and very often just go to the worldwide
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web and find out what the find of id for a figure i read a lot about. for instance, ralph plays a very big part in my book. i know all about him now. but my reader is going to want to know the beginning that ralph was setting up that's importance writer of the united states. >> you're desk has one picture on it. >> yes. >> and it's freud. >> it's only freud. >> yeah. i know. >> this is the piece by artist name helen gallagher. the picture is freud sketching. it's hard, i know freud didn't sketch. he loved art, but i don't know that he sketched. but the women is the picture is actual artist. she is wearing the outfit of an
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ode liz. the figure was so important in the 19th and 20th century western art. so she was putting herself in a kind of ma tiff situation. i am an art student. so this reminds me that i have another life. and that it can be academic. art can be academic, and also be rewarding and interesting. on the wall is the cover from the "new yorker." and admire karen walker's work. she's an excellent artist. technically she's brilliant. i wouldn't like to live in her head. but i think that she really understands a lot of what was going on in 19th century
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american history. so that is also there to remind me that history and art. >> there's another one. >> this pastel is by a friend of mine who lives in paris. and who reminds me that we are going to paint together. so her name is janet. and her piece, actually the center part you can see the news in a classical way of painting. around the edges are parts of the lives and work of a german jewish poet. janet has translated her poet -- poetry. this is some of the -- some
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images related to the holocaust around the edges. >> so you have gone to art school. >> yes. >> could you explain that to us, and then show us some of your work? >> i can't explain it all. we'd be here before. i'm a bachelor of fine arts student. and i am trying to balance two or three different lives at the same time. and since my main work now is finishing the history of the book i'm working on now. i have to keep my arts within the tiny corners. this fall i actually snuck up to upstate and i took one class. so i've -- i did several pieces.
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they are all assignments. people ask me what kind of work do i do. i say i do assignments. and i will be doing assignments for a little bit longer. i feel like a grandchild sometimes with art. because people say, well, let me see your work. and i say here's my work. they say that's so nice. i feel like i know this is student work. i'm a student, this is student work. people are very generous about saying how sweet and nice it is. i have to hold myself back from bringing it out all. i did this. i did this. so here's just a little bit of -- this one is calling retrieving a man. and the assignment was before and after in a casual relationship. and it's a print on two
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different pieces. so this one is -- not very good. conceptually, the teacher found it unsubtle. but it's about bodily hole, according to leonardo. he was the artist who thought about putting the figure out like that. leonardo made his man a very familiar scene. i adapted that to our times and a showed a person who has lost limbs and had a lot of surgical intervention as part of the body of our time. this was earlier on in the semester. this one is a lot of work. this one is -- was, about a
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childhood memory. the assignment was childhood memory. so the memory i went back to was horseback riding with my father. my parents are still alive, 90 years old, my father is not well. this was going back to a time when neither of us could forsee where we would be in half of the time we've reached. i asked my parents if they thought they'd live to be 90. they were both kind of surprised. this is the last assignment was is a tero card. i did it in two different color schemes. i brought them both out because i did so much work trying to get the colors right. the plates on this, and this is soft ground. so the technique is soft ground
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etching and a etching a little bit of dry points. >> what is soft ground etching? >> it's where you treat your plate with soft felt. a soft ground. and then you sort of click it and it gets really soft and malleable. and then you put something like that has a texture and run that through the press and then you end up with a texture. so the texture here, and this was very fine. so it doesn't come out so well, it's very different from the texture here. but for me, the great challenge here was not so much getting the texture, i did have to work very hard on doing that. there's several steps. and you have to do the steps in the right order. but the plate interacted with the ink. and so the color scream that i had set up in my head was
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nothing like the color scream that came out when i printed. so i ended up with two sets of color. and they are both considered part of the same edition. and i don't know which one i like better. you i do like the way the colors came out. but for me, print making was so satisfactory. in my grandchild kind of way i came up with a few pieces that -- i guess i don't mind showing you. >> in depth is the first sunday
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of each month. log on to for more information about upcoming guests. >> radio talk show executive brian jennings on the new fairness doctrine. why it's a bad idea. and alternatives to sensorship. he's interviewed by monica crowley. on "afterwards" part of the book tv weekends. >> book tv wants to know what are you reading this summer? >> early on this year i was given a copy of this book by
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kristin downny. it's the life of francis perkins. he was the first cabinet woman member. i find a lot of similarities with the kinds of challenges that we are facing. i see unemployment, a lot of dislocation of workers, protections in the workplace, safety for children even, i mean just making sure we uphold our labor laws and provide adequate help. it's a really interesting book. she was someone who had great courage and someone who broke barriers for women. every time i think about what she was going through i can relate to it. i see it as i go around the country and we continue to still see poverty and the financial crisis affecting so much people. and just she helped resolve and give strength to the administration and to the president in terms of providing
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good leadership for reforms. basic wages and hours to be met, safety in the workplace, there were many people that were for example killed in a sweat shot. she saw that and created laws and procedured to make sure there was safety outlets. which is really important. the second book that i want to look at is one that i've read and actually a good friend of mine, caroline kennedy, "profiles in courage for caroline." she has looked at profiling different people, people that would make decisions that would cost them their political careers. people that would fight the good fight on behalf of everyone. she just gives different
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examples. one that i think that was a great interest was henry b. gonzales who was one of the first historical members of that background. and really exciting reading and in fact they have a little chapter about me in here. that's kind of interesting. this last book within the grapes of wrath" is a historical book for me. i remember reading it when i was in 9th grade. i felt so drawn and humility were really faced with hardships, depression, saw a lot of mistreatment and abuses. more importantedly, just the fighting tenacity behind these people that wanting them to be successful, make a new life, many of them came from the midwest, southern part and came to california. it's a great story. we totally look back on the
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plight of america. we laid the front for many of the changes that we see we're benefiting from. a lot of the changes that occurred for society and protection for workers. for me the scene is here. women, women of courage, people of courage, people that have been able to go through a great challenges in their life and were able to supersede it and go beyond. i think these are good things to think about as we look at where we are right now. >> to see more summer reading list and other program information, visit our web site at >> linda manning of the northern illinois university press, what
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are some of the titles coming out? >> we have starting one that just came out a biography on joy morton. he was the founder of morton soap. >> why is it important? >> he was very much ahead of his time. he was fill anatropies and early environmental. he believed in saving the land around chicago and it is very nice to have open land near the city like that. >> is83p morton salt still? chicago? >> it is. >> what else? >> we have william l. dawson. >> who's that? >> he was a congress man from chicago. he was very popular during the civil rights era. he was one of the first black americans to be a congressman. he was in a cabinet. and we're getting a lot of buzz about that book.
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there's never been a biography on him either. >> who is troy dickham. >> he's a historian. he wrote this about the british press and their views and how they saw the war. there was a lot of controversy in britain because people sided with beth. it was kind of a conflict who do they side with their previous or previous people who were colonist in the united states. he takes a look at how the press viewed the war. in england, the common person would write editorial. so even the common person had a voice about the revolution. >> now being northern illinois, you're in the midwest, you're publishing a book called "industrializing the corn belt." >> yes, it's a case study on


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